A man of fortune: interview with Conrad Standish of Devastations
At first, when I received Devastations' singer Conrad Standish's prompt reply to my questions, I considered holding off on posting it. After all, two posts on a band in one week might be viewed as overkill, right? But no, I realized, it's actually a fair representation of how predominantly Devastations have seized my attention lately. Their new album, Coal, seems to only richen and expand with every listen. I feel myself being drawn back to certain songs just as I think their pull has weakened. And I haven't yet encountered an occasion that their music can't complement.
Hopefully, I won't be one of the few to find out how excellent it is. In a packed, high-profile season, Coal is subtle and lovely enough that it could easily get lost. So do yourself a favor: pick up a copy of the new record soon and catch a most deserving band on the rise. In the meantime, check out my interview with the man at the mic:
NL: How did the band come together?
CS: We were all playing together in another band, which was kind of a more noisy, punk-informed kind of thing, which gradually imploded and then we emerged, panting and phoenix-like, as Devastations in late 2002.
NL: How did you decide on the song sequence? "Sex and Mayhem" seems like a bold choice to open with. The album probably would've been entirely different if you'd started with, say, "Cormina."
CS: Yeah, no one would buy it. That's not taking away from "Cormina" in any way, but it's not really how we wanted to introduce the record. To us, this is kind of a poppy record (in a slightly skewed way), and we wanted to illustrate that maybe by opening with "Sex And Mayhem." Plus you can't deny a Casio beat.
NL: What is living in Berlin like? What compelled you to base yourselves there?
CS: It's cheap, it looks good, and has a very interesting history. We kind of wound up there by accident, as in we knew some people there who we crashed with in between tours, and then it just made more sense for us to start renting our own place, and then it went from there. I like it. I have to move out of my place after I get back from the States though, as my housemate is a fucking Nazi.
NL: Why did you choose "Take Me Home" as the first single? Are there plans to release any others?
CS: It wasn't our initial plan to release that first, but then came around to the idea, as it's probably more immediate than anything else on the record, though not necessarily too indicative of the rest of the songs. As far as more singles--that's up to the label really. "Sex And Mayhem" would probably be the obvious choice as next single. I mean, it has the word "sex" in it.
NL: Who are some of the Australian artists you think should be getting more attention stateside? What about German artists?
CS: Everyone should definitely seek out HTRK (Hate Rock Trio), www.myspace.com/htrk--they are awesome. Like Nico out front of Suicide with a bent funk fixation. Stunning. Other than that, The Drones are very good value. German artists--pffft. Aside from Neubauten, Faust and all the obvious older contenders, I'm not really aware of anyone doing anything that great at the moment. Maybe Cobra Killer. I'm feeling kind of down on Germany today. Next question.
NL: What can people expect from Devastations live?
CS: Bloody fingers. Beautiful shoes.
NL: What song that you haven't covered would you love to cover?
CS: "The Original Disco Man" by James Brown. I want that played at my funeral.
NL: What has surprised you most about the music industry so far?
CS: I kind of expected it to be this fucked.
NL: What albums have you not been able to get enough of recently?
CS: HTRK - Marry Me Tonight. Liked the last Liars record too. Karen Dalton's In My Own Time.
NL: On this album, there's a whole lot of darkness, abuse, sadness and sexuality paired with some fairly sweet-sounding music. Was that a juxtaposition you set up intentionally?
CS: Yes and no.
NL: How did the collaborations with Padma Newsome and Bic Runga come about? Any chance of more Angus Andrew collaborating on the horizon?
CS: They're friends who were able to play instruments that we couldn't. Bic played the "Female Foil." Padma's contribution was massive. We will definitely work together on the next record if possible. It's probable I'll be doing stuff with Angus soon.
NL: What question are you tired of being asked?
CS: Most of them. I find music a very uncomfortable thing to actually talk about. It's something that you do.
NL: Where do you see your sound progressing from here? Are there any leads as to where the third album is heading?
CS: It's heading south.
* MP3: "Coal" - Devastations from Coal
* MP3: "Sex and Mayhem" - Devastations from Coal [Buy it]
* Band Website: Devastations
* Upcoming Tourdates:
27 - New York, NY, Knitting Factory
28 - Philadephia, PA, Johnny Brenda's
31 - Cambridge, MA, TT The Bear's
1 - Williamsburg, NY, Sound Fix (in-store)
2 - New York, NY, White Rabbit
3 - New York, NY, R&R (CMJ showcase)
4 - Toronto, ON, El Mocambo
6 - Chicago, IL, Empty Bottle
7 - Minneapolis, MN, 7th Street Entry
10 - Vancouver, BC, Media Club
11 - Seattle, WA, Crocodile Cafe
12 - Portland, OR, Doug Fir
14 - San Francisco, CA, Bottom of the Hill
15 - Los Angeles, CA, Spaceland
17 - San Diego, CA, Casbah
Tags: Devastations, Coal, Brassland, MP3, Sex and Mayhem, Conrad Standish, tourdates